Hi friends! Chrissie here. I’m excited to pass the mic over to someone special in our Love Is Project community—our supporter and partner Isabela Banson. Isabela is from Manila, Philippines and we’ve been so grateful to have her on Team LOVE. Isabela believes you can spread LOVE one meal at a time. And to her, LOVE is her mom...and you’ll understand why.
Isabela, take it away….
What is LOVE? A seemingly simple question that holds billions of answers. LOVE can be acceptance, faith, or freedom. It could be a person that matters most to you, a furry friend who you grew up with, or a feeling you get in a certain moment. Now, how much can someone LOVE? I have no idea, but one thing’s for sure—I’ve never seen anyone LOVE like my mom does. I’ve always seen my mom as a beacon of light, a role model to me and my 9 siblings. On top of her job as a stockbroker, she manages to excel in her career as an artist. However, being the renaissance woman that she is—she doesn’t stop there.
She founded Feeding Metro Manila (FMM) in 2011, a hunger relief charity to minimize food scarcity in impoverished areas of Metro Manila. In Filipino culture, food plays a HUGE role in day-to-day life. In any gathering, big or small, there will be some type of dish or snack prepared. To Filipinos, food is LOVE, and in these areas where meals are lacking, well… so is LOVE. FMM fills that void.
It all started as a family affair. My siblings and I would be preparing the meals, with the help from our kitchen staff. We’d run around left to right, take turns cooking and packaging. The smell of rice cooking, the sound of oil popping and sausages sizzling on a pan, the maids yelling “tapos na toh!” (this is ready!). It was like a busy kitchen working a fully booked restaurant—a chaotic mess, but quite thrilling I must say.
After a couple months of operating, Feeding Metro Manila caught the attention of friends, family friends, and acquaintances. People wanted to be a part of this initiative, and of course my mom welcomed them with open arms.
As the feeding programs grew and grew, reaching bigger community populations, our kitchen was no longer a sustainable food resource. Mom had to contact multiple people around her circle and asked for food donations for the weekly feeding programs. She had major food companies donating bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, canned goods, rice and more. In addition, she has all the food freshly made and packed up by anyone who wants to volunteer. It’s almost like a community outreach program that not only brought us closer together, but also gave us a sense of fulfillment. Seeing the kids’ bright smiles and eyes beaming with happiness while eating the meals YOU prepared for them is a priceless moment. You can even call it LOVE at first bite.
With over 37,261 meals to date, the program continues to operate in not only the rural areas of Manila, but has now extended the labour of LOVE to several islands including Siargao, Bataan, Leyte and more. As FMM expanded throughout the years, it went from only providing food to now offering medical and dentistry services. There would be massive trucks with a clinic inside that would participate in the feeding programs and perform check-ups on the kids and their families. These communities were finally getting the help and support they needed, and I couldn’t believe that my mom started it all.
Denzel Washington once said: “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”
I’ve never seen so much LOVE come out of a 5 foot tall human being. My mom will always be an inspiration to me. She built Feeding Metro Manila from her heart, and shared the LOVE with everyone around her. Furthermore, it just goes to show how an individual can influence and make a huge impact on the lives of many.
In 2019, Chrissie visited the Philippines to expand her reach of artisan groups. Whilst actively working and interviewing with different media companies, she prioritized to volunteer in one of FMM’s weekly feedings. That day was extraordinary. The children were given custom red and white LOVE bracelets and they all returned the favor by making LOVE notes for Chrissie. It is definitely one of the most memorable feedings to date.
Please visit Feeding Metro Manila (FMM) to learn how you can support Isabela, her mother, and their community by creating more LOVE at first bite moments. :)
Thank you, Isabela, for sharing your beautiful LOVE story. <3
If you want to share your LOVE story, shoot Madison an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how!
Founder, Love is Project
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